‘He was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight’ (Acts 1:9, NIV).
I took a day after the Messy Church Conference to decompress and visit my spiritual home, a place where I can walk and talk with God. I find I encounter God as I face the elements, and often God gives me a picture through the nature that surrounds me.
I found myself buffeted by the wind as I stood on Baslow Edge, the gritstone cliffs above Cliff College in the Peak District. I watched light rain showers sweep through Hope Valley. At times the view was so clear, then quickly a mist descended and things once in focus disappeared. It made me wonder about the disciples who gathered on the mountain as Jesus delivered his great commission, before ascending into a cloud. One moment their focus was clear, the next obscured. I pondered that perhaps our spiritual lives are a bit like this. One moment you think you know what you’re doing, then something changes and it all becomes uncertain.
I went there to pray about Messy Church as a movement. My clear focus on delivering the conference was over… what next, Lord? The weather closed in and the view became hazy.
My attention was drawn to two skylarks that launched themselves into the updraft by the rocks. They seemed to simply hang in the air, completely supported by the wind. It looked effortless. Then with a slight change in wind direction, they allowed themselves to be carried away in the breeze.
Through this visual picture, I remembered that Jesus promised to send his helper, the Holy Spirit and felt God remind me, ‘Let my Spirit carry you’ and when we walk in step with Jesus, we ‘will find rest for your souls’ (Matthew 11:29, NIV).
As I looked down at the path I had come, the hills that had felt quite steep, from this angle looked quite flat. I felt God say, ‘Things you find hard are not difficult for me – trust!’
As I scanned the path I was to walk, I spotted a herd of Highland Cattle with their calves. Up close, they are enormous and I was anxious about the moving obstacles ahead. However, as I strode on, I failed to see anything of these majestic beasts. At ground level, they were hidden by the boulders and bracken. The obstacle I was worried about turned out to be a complete non-issue! God was giving me a practical example to trust and ‘not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God’ (Philippians 4:6, NIV).
I wonder if in your Messy Church you feel like you’ve got a mountain to climb, or you’re hanging on to the cliff edge? Perhaps your once-clear vision seems obscured and you worry about potential obstacles in your way? I pray that in the season ahead, we will all lean into the Holy Spirit and be ready to join in with where God’s already at work.
Aike Kennett-BrownBRF Messy Church ministry lead